Friday, July 6, 2012

Land of the Free

My newest little Americans celebrated 
their very first Fourth of July this year!  
We went to a big festival in the park, just like we do every Fourth of July, and I have to tell you, I was not sure if this was going to be a good idea or not.  It is noisy.  It is crowded.  It is busy.  It is an all-day event.  It is perhaps a textbook example of "overstimulating."  But we go every year, and I did not want to be the mommy that told the big kids we were canceling an annual, highly-anticipated tradition because of the new kids, so we packed twelve changes of clothes, lunch, snacks, and dinner, diapers, wipes, blankets, swimming clothes, towels, and a whole bunch of other stuff into the van, and off we went!  And the most amazing thing happened.  It went well!  Sure, the little boys were a little bit overwhelmed at times, but overall, it went really, really well!  
I am so glad that we decided to try this!  I am amazed at how well the boys have adjusted to their new lives.  They have had so much to learn, and so much to get used to, and this outing just really showed me how far they have come.  I remember their frantic screaming and stimming in the airport on the trip home.  I remember when even having a guest in our home for five minutes was enough to send them into meltdown mode.  And here they were, at this huge community festival, with music and crowds of people and giant inflatable toys run by incredibly noisy generators, with hot, bright sunshine and brisk ocean breeze and wide open spaces, and they were so MELLOW.  

If you had told me, while I was pushing a stroller through the airport in Germany, with two hysterical, sweaty, inconsolable little boys shrieking and struggling and self-harming and drawing stares of everybody around us, that just four months later I would be able to go out into public peacefully, with smiling, giggly little boys, I really don't think I would have believed it!  The Lord is so good!  Our God is a God of healing and hope, and this outing was truly a reminder of how mighty our Lord is!

Gracie tried out the climbing wall this year:

Micah's happy noises (with Gideon singing in the background):

 clearly the world's best dad 
(at least according to these six kiddos):

another snack break:

Gracie contemplating the really tall inflatable slide:

 But Gideon wasn't quite ready for the big slides this year.  Here is his idea of a good challenge:

Gideon's "Curious George" impression:

Cute, yes.  Quiet?  Not so much.

 And the best rides of all:

 My adorable little girl:

This was a really big deal.  Micah was reaching for Gideon's banana granola bar (a first, since he usually cringes away from food and screams in horror if we try to get him to eat anything more solid than yogurt) and then when sweet Gideon shared a piece with him, Micah was sniffing it, just holding it under his nose, breathing in that banana goodness, and then, wonder of wonders, he licked it!  And licked it again!  I think he may have even tried to bite into it!  This is so amazing to me!  Gives me hope that someday the boy may choose to eat something that doesn't come on a spoon . . . 

Then you can see him making his "yuck" face and wiping his hand on his shirt, but hey, at least he tried it, right? 
This is big news!

Gracie hula-hooping:

 Isaac hula-hooping:

Gideon hula-hooping:

 Josiah pouting because he doesn't know how to hula-hoop:

Gideon offering his hula-hoop to Josiah:

 Josiah fussing that he doesn't know how, 
and therefore couldn't possibly even try:

 Josiah trying:

Josiah hula-hooping!

Go, Josiah!

Dinner in the park:

And the best part of all . . . Micah playing on the merry-go-round.  And liking it!  And not wanting to stop!  He went around and around and around, and as long as the ride kept moving, the boy was happy!  Can you believe this is the same little boy who was terrified of motion, and just wanted to rock himself and stare at a wall?  

These are happy noises:

Then it was time for the big fireworks show.  How, oh, how, were the little boys going to deal with this?  Way, way, WAAAAAY past their seven o'clock bedtime, outside, in the dark, on the grass . . . And I never realized how long and loud and echoing the boom of fireworks could be!  Micah panics over the dryer running and the vacuum cleaner being turned on.  Surely he was not going to deal with this well, right?
But look!  Oh, my sweet adorable boy!  
He giggled and giggled!  Every time there was 
a big boom, there was a big Micah giggle!  
How awesome and surprising is that?

And Gideon was very calm, too, 
and oohed and aahed over each explosion:

Gracie, my little girly-girl, clapped and cheered 
for all the pink and purple ones:

 Blessing (who has a really intense startle reflex) 
startled at each boom, but she did not seem to hate it, 
and she watched the whole show contentedly:

I love our country, where there is a place for all people.  Where children are welcome whether they can walk and talk or not.  Where being in a wheelchair does not automatically mean that a person is worthless to society.  Where a person's worth is measured by more than just how they look or how likely they are to hold down a job as an adult.  Where doctors and nurses treat my children with respect, and offer them ALL a sticker at the end of the visit.  Where playgrounds have equipment that all kids can play on.  Where teenagers see Micah laying on the merry-go-round and say, "Oh, look at that cute little boy!"  Where the checker at the grocery store greets my kids by name, and takes the time to make conversation with all six of them.  And where the awesomely friendly man bagging our groceries has Down Syndrome.  A perfect country?  Of course not.  But for the most part, my children are treated like the amazing, precious treasures that they are, and they have the opportunity for life, family, and freedom.  This is a beautiful country, and I am so blessed to be raising these children here!